TV Review: Chicago Fire Season 2 Episode 6 "Joyriding"

A lot of things happen during "Joyriding". Some are continuations of stories that have been told throughout the season so far, while others are conclusions.

One of the concluding stories is Mouch's run for Union President. Throughout this episode, we are alerted to an upcoming debate between Mouch and Sullivan, the man running against him. Isabella finds some critical information - Sullivan is behind on child support payments. Mouch isn't so hot on the idea of using personal attacks for the first time. However during the debate, Sullivan increasingly went there by bringing up the origin of the nickname 'Mouch' (1/2 man, 1/2 couch), the sexual harassment lawsuit against 51, the recent arson case, among other low blows.

Naturally, this made Mouch irate. Just as he was about to explode and drop the child support bomb on Sullivan, he decided against it at the last second. This choice ends up costing Mouch the election, just like Isabella said it would.

It highlighted Mouch's moral core and his ability to stick to his convictions quite well - which made it a nice ending to a relatively low tension story.

It's okay that it was low tension, because it never tried to be anything more than that.

The other concluding story is the mobster Arthur and the undercover cop Jay (a character on the upcoming Chicago PD spin-off) harassing Molly's. After a detective tells Otis, Herrmann and Dawson that they are suspects in the Game Day fire, an upset Dawson goes to Jay who tells her she has to provoke Arthur enough so he has proof of his activities. Dawson gets her chance later with Jay and Arthur when Arthur pours out a bottle of alcohol on the bar and sets it on fire. Here is where I winced. Chicago Fire normally avoids so many of the issues that major network shows run into. However, Chicago Fire ran into one tonight. As the bar is set on fire, Jay reveals who he is, and Arthur takes out a gun and shoots in Jay's direction. Jay and another goon go down - they're motionless and presumably dead.

Dawson screams from behind the bar - just as it cuts to commercial. Any casual TV viewer would be legitimately shocked at Jay's seemingly quick death. However when it comes back, the camera is on Arthur with the gun until a gun is pointed to his head. The camera pans over to reveal that Jay is alive, only injured.

What is my issue with this? It's a false-cliffhanger. Do I expect them to accommodate for the viewers who know the Jay character is going to be on the upcoming spin-off Chicago PD? No.

But I also don't want Chicago Fire to try and manipulate the viewer either.

If this had happened on Breaking Bad, Arthur would have shot Jay and his goon both dead right then and there. If you're going to commit to something, commit to it. It's not necessarily a total writing problem as much as it's a writing/shooting style/editing issue for me. You can have Jay be the one who gets shot - I like that. But don't have Arthur shoot, then cut to Jay and the goon motionless on the ground giving off the assumption that they're dead. Give me a moan, a wiggle, anything. If this was my episode I would have had Jay wiggle, then have Dawson make a move to help him, then have Arthur point the gun at Dawson to make her stop in her tracks - THEN cut to break. That way all the viewer knows is Jay is injured, and Arthur's attention is on Dawson.

Then when you have the gun pointed at Arthur and it's revealed to be Jay, you don't feel duped. By using this technique and not the death fake out, you are getting the maximum amount of tension out of the scene without actually killing Jay. In fact, arguably more: Dawson is now faced with a fire that could spread, a gun in her face and Jay bleeding out from a gunshot wound. The difference is we know going into the break Jay is badly wounded and that Dawson can't be a paramedic with a gun in her face.

When it's broken down like this, it seems like a gigantic problem - even though the scene lasted maybe 15 seconds. It really isn't.

However like I said before - since I hold this show to a huge standard (which it hits on a regular basis), I'm forced to point out small hiccups such as this.

Especially since the rest of the episode was practically flawless.

Two stories that continued this week were Boden's resignation and Shay and Dawson's differences mounting.

Since they each got only a little attention, and they are very much unresolved at this point, I'm withholding judgement to see how they play out.

One of the more unique stories Chicago Fire has ever done took place this week. It involved Severide witnessing a boy flipping a Caterpillar machine and getting stuck. Severide had to pull out a piece of rebar from the kid's arm, and then pinch off an artery that it nicked. Later on, Severide himself is trapped by a fallen ladder until Shay finishes her shift and traces Severide's steps out to the abandoned construction site where the Caterpillar overturned. It was some of Taylor Kinney's best acting work to date.

There was some particularly strong writing showing the kid had the same motivation for taking the Caterpillar for a "Joyride" as Severide does for being a Firefighter: proving they can do it without the help of their fathers. The writers also avoided a lot of deus ex machina or random acts of god saving Severide with making the phone be smashed and unusable as well as having the passing Truck not stop. Having an accident that pinned one of the characters in one spot throughout the whole episode provided a nice juxtaposition up against the hectic running around that everyone at 51 does every episode.

It stripped away all the action sequences (not that I don't love Chicago Fire's calls that they go on - I do), didn't drown out the actors with an overzealous score and just let the actors act.

All in all, this was a strong backbone for a very strong episode of Chicago Fire.

Photo Credit: http://chicagofirepd.com/